Science Is Everywhere: General Science | Series Nonfiction

An uptick in titles that integrate elements of pop culture with STEM subjects mark this latest batch of series nonfiction.

1611-sms-generalsciSchool and public librarians as well as classroom teachers will have a number of great science titles to choose from this season. Selectors will find a few contemporary topics like drones or apps along with the more standard STEM overviews. Most entries contain an element of pop culture and are filled with images of a diverse array of children and adults. The best among these series not only provide solid information but thoroughly engage readers in the topic at hand, whether it be through mathematical problems, critical thinking, or even ethical questions on the subject.


Baxter, Roberta. Minerals. ISBN 9781503808034; ISBN 9781503813595.

––––. Sedimentary Rocks. ISBN 9781503808058; ISBN 9781503813601.

McCarthy, Cecilia Pinto. Metamorphic Rocks. ISBN 9781503808027; ISBN 9781503813588.

Mooney, Carla. Crystals. ISBN 9781503807990; ISBN 9781503813557.

––––. Fossils. ISBN 9781503808003; ISBN 9781503813564.

Watts, Pam. The Rock Cycle. ISBN 9781503808041; ISBN 9781503813625.

––––. Soil. ISBN 9781503808065; ISBN 9781503813618.

York, M.J. Igneous Rocks. ISBN 9781503808010; ISBN 9781503813571.

ea vol: 24p. (Geology Rocks!). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. The Child’s World. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $28.50. ebk. $28.50.

Gr 3-6 –Each of the major types of rock—sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic—receives its own treatment as do fossils, crystals, the rock cycle, and minerals in this selection. (Soil is the sole volume that is not directly about rocks.) Main ideas, such as the three rock types and the rock cycle, are repeated to some degree in nearly every volume, resulting in a series that walks a fine line between reinforcing concepts and being redundant. The layers of the earth and Martian rocks also appear more than once. The potential uses of various rocks are discussed, as are occasional issues, such as the impact of mines and mining on the environment. VERDICT A solid if uninspiring series on geology.

Biskup, Agnieszka. The Science Behind Batman’s Tools. ISBN 9781515720386; ISBN 9781515720423.

––––. The Science Behind Batman’s Uniform. ISBN 9781515720317; ISBN 9781515720393.

Enz, Tammy. The Science Behind Batman’s Flying Machines. ISBN 9781515720362; ISBN 9781515720416.

––––. The Science Behind Batman’s Ground Vehicles. ISBN 9781515720348; ISBN 9781515720409.

ea vol: 24p. (Science Behind Batman). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $18.99. pap. $6.95.

Gr 2-4 –This series makes clever use of a famous superhero to introduce a variety of STEM facts to primary readers. Each of the four volumes takes one category of Batman’s well-known gadgets and presents similar items and concepts from the real world. Some physics-related concepts, such as lift, are featured more than once, as they are relevant both to Batman’s cape and his flying vehicles. Many of the comparisons are to military gear, such as stealth tech, body armor, and night vision, as the military has either the most advanced or most recognizable versions of these. There are colorful images of both the Caped Crusader and photos of the actual articles mentioned. VERDICT Recommended for elementary-aged comic book fans, as it will build on a natural curiosity of how Batman is able to accomplish his amazing feats.

Felix, Rebecca. Electricity at Work. ISBN 9781680781397; ISBN 9781680778571.

––––. Magnetism at Work. ISBN 9781680781427; ISBN 9781680778601.

Kukla, Lauren. Elements at Work. ISBN 9781680781403; ISBN 9781680778588.

––––. Light at Work. ISBN 9781680781410; ISBN 9781680778595.

––––. Mass at Work. ISBN 9781680781434; ISBN 9781680778618.

––––. Temperature at Work. ISBN 9781680781441; ISBN 9781680778625.

ea vol: 24p. (Science at Work). glossary. photos. ABDO. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $16.95. ebk. $31.95.

K-Gr 2 –Geared toward young readers, this series attempts to simplify science concepts with an emphasis on how they apply to daily life. Electricity, temperature, and light will be relatively familiar concepts for the audience while mass, magnetism, and the elements may be new. The page layouts feature one to three sentences per page and a bright photo. The text provides brief facts, some of which elucidate the topic while others are supplementary. For instance, that elements “are the simplest forms of something” is helpful, while the fact that Dmitri Mendeleyev sorted them into a table is probably not useful information for this age group. Other examples of scientists who appear include Marie Curie, Benjamin Franklin, and Isaac Newton. There are a few oversimplifications, such as the statement that magnetism is “found in some metals.” VERDICT Overall these are accurate, if very basic introductions that may require teacher or parent guidance.

Flatt, Lizann. Collecting Data. ISBN 9780778726333; ISBN 9780778726371.

––––. Line Graphs. ISBN 9780778726258; ISBN 9780778726357.

Sikkens, Crystal. Bar Graphs. ISBN 9780778726241; ISBN 9780778726340.

––––. Picture Graphs. ISBN 9780778726326; ISBN 9780778726364.

ea vol: 24p. (Get Graphing! Building Data Literacy Skills). chart. ebook available. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Crabtree. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $23.60. pap. $7.95.

K-Gr 3 –An introduction to basic graphing skills through instruction and interaction. Each begins with the idea that graphs, particularly those that a student constructs themselves, may provide information not available in books or on the Internet. Collecting Data sets up the other three volumes by guiding readers in constructing a question and then gathering information to answer that question, including discerning what type of data will be useful. The other three volumes describe simple types of graphs, from the parts of each graph to its uses. Readers are invited to interpret the data on provided example graphs and construct their own based on the example. Much of the content revolves around classroom assignments, but these could be appreciated by independent readers as well. VERDICT Consider for school or classroom libraries.

Harasymiw, Mark. Math in the Asteroid Belt. ISBN 9781482449310; ISBN 9781482449266.

––––. Math on Mars. ISBN 9781482449334; ISBN 9781482449273.

Linde, Barbara. Math on Jupiter. ISBN 9781482449327; ISBN 9781482449648.

Machajewski, Sarah. Math on Saturn. ISBN 9781482449358; ISBN 9781482449297.

Ponka, Katherine. Math on the Sun. ISBN 9781482449365; ISBN 9781482449303.

Saxena, Shalini. Math on the Moon. ISBN 9781482449341; ISBN 9781482449280.

ea vol: 24p. (Solve It! Math in Space). chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $22.60. ebk. $22.60.

Gr 3-6 –Math and mathematical concepts are used to reinforce facts about planets and other celestial bodies to adequate success in this series. Two-page chapters feature a paragraph of information accompanied by one or more photos or graphics that cover a given subtopic, such as water on Mars or the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Chapters feature a mathematical “mission” that asks students to calculate planet diameters, how much a person on Earth would weigh on that planet, and so on. The image quality is often on the fuzzier side, although the sheer beauty of the space images will likely attract readers anyway. VERDICT The subject matter should prove enticing to readers. A suitable addition for public and school libraries.

Higgins, Nadia. Count It! ISBN 9781 620314067.

––––. Graph It! ISBN 9781620314074.

––––. Guess It! ISBN 9781620314081.

––––. Measure It! ISBN 9781620314098.

––––. Sort It! ISBN 9781620314104.

––––. Weigh It! ISBN 9781620314111.

ea vol: 24p. (Math It!). diag. ebook available. glossary. index. photos. Jump!/Pogo. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $25.65.

Gr 1-4 –A highly interactive series that makes clear many basic math concepts. Readers will immediately recognize ideas like weighing and measuring as math topics but may not realize that sorting and guessing are also math-related actions. Each page combines bright photos and simple text. Questions for readers are peppered throughout each volume and will really get kids thinking about the concepts covered. The metric and U.S. systems of measurement are covered in Weigh It! and Measure It! Graph It! covers data collection as well as picture, bar, and pie graphs so that this single volume alone provides a solid overview of graphing. Guess It! instructs readers on mathematical estimation so that, for instance, they can decide if they have enough money for lunch. Each volume concludes with a hands-on activity to further reinforce the lessons presented. VERDICT A welcome tool for introductory math instruction for school libraries.

Middle to High School

Adamson, Thomas K. Apollo 11 Moon Landing: An Interactive Space Exploration Adventure. ISBN 9781491481035; ISBN 9781491481370.

Kortenkamp, Steve. Mars Exploration Rovers: An Interactive Space Exploration Adventure. ISBN 9781491481066; ISBN 9781491481394.

Lassieur, Allison. International Space Station: An Interactive Space Exploration Adventure. ISBN 9781491481042; ISBN 9781491481387.

Stefoff, Rebecca. Space Race: An Interactive Space Exploration Adventure. ISBN 9781491481011; ISBN 9781491481363.

ea vol: 112p. (You Choose: Space). bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $23.99. pap. $6.95.

Gr 5-9 –These titles aren’t adventures per se but rather an engaging way to reach students hesitant about space science. Some of the “paths” simply end when that part of a mission concludes or the particular engineering problem is solved, while others continue to a final goal. Negative endings are possible, including being fired or getting space motion sickness. Some choices introduce moral dilemmas, while others simply involve choosing among relatively equal possibilities. The “Breaking into the Boy’s Club” chapter in Space Race is from the perspective of a female pilot and contends with the barriers women faced in the early days of NASA. The conclusion of each text reveals developments based on the subject of each book that affect contemporary life. For example, in Mars Exploration Rovers, the final chapter discusses the new rover NASA’s engineers are working on, to be launched in 2020, and how these rovers are paving the way for future human exploration. VERDICT The first-person perspective is an effective means of getting readers passionate about space. No doubt these will inspire a few future engineers and astronauts.

Belton, Blair. How Coal Is Formed. ISBN 9781482447071; ISBN 9781482447033; ISBN 9781482447088.

Kennon, Caroline. How Iron Ore Forms. ISBN 9781482447156; ISBN 9781482447132; ISBN 9781482449624.

Keppeler, Jill. How Gems Are Formed. ISBN 9781482447118; ISBN 9781482447095; ISBN 9781482447125.

McDonnell, Julia. How Precious Metals Form. ISBN 9781482447309; ISBN 9781482447279; ISBN 9781482447323.

Nagelhout, Ryan. How Natural Gas Is Formed. ISBN 9781482447187; ISBN 9781482447163; ISBN 9781482447194.

Nelson, Kristen Rajczak. How Oil Is Formed. ISBN 9781482447248; ISBN 9781482447217; ISBN 9781482447255.

ea vol: 32p. (From the Earth: How Resources Are Made). chart. diag. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $26.60. pap. $10.50. ebk. $26.60.

Gr 4-7 –While geologic resources may not be the first topic to spring to tween minds when considering exciting sciences, the extraction, refining, and uses of minerals and fossil fuels is made quite interesting in these volumes. Each book addresses a specific topic and enlivens it with charts, diagrams, and surprising facts. A few of the volumes mention that certain elements actually predated the formation of the earth, and others warn of the dangers of abandoned mines. The chemical and geologic processes that form the resources and those that humanity uses to process them are well explained and illustrated, enabling readers to grasp fairly difficult concepts. Each volume concludes with a “You Decide” section, laying out concerns regarding the topic. VERDICT This series would be a great addition to school or public libraries, as it makes an often dull topic really shine.

Biskup, Agnieszka. Seeing Through Walls: Superman and the Science of Sight. ISBN 9781515709121; ISBN 9781515709169.

––––. Stopping Runaway Trains: Superman and the Science of Strength. ISBN 9781515709145; ISBN 9781515709183.

Enz, Tammy. Outrunning Bullets: Superman and the Science of Speed. ISBN 9781515709152; ISBN 9781515709190.

––––. Soaring the Skies: Superman and the Science of Flight. ISBN 9781515709138; ISBN 9781515709176.

ea vol: 32p. (Superman Science). further reading. glossary. illus. index. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.49. ebk. $7.95.

Gr 4-7 –Using the incredible abilities of the Man of Steel as a launching point into science and engineering concepts, this series combines a high-interest figure with solid, informational content. These volumes don’t attempt to explain the science behind Superman’s fictional abilities but instead compare them to analogous feats in the human, technological, and animal worlds. Stopping Runaway Trains, for instance, details the physiology of human muscles, cutting-edge technologies to augment or restore strength, and record holders in the animal kingdom. However, adults should note that the “Enhancing Strength” section in that title doesn’t include any adult permission or guidance suggestions on lifting weights, and in Flight, a section on drones doesn’t pose any moral questions on military drone use. The bright and detailed graphics are eye-catching and helpful in breaking down potentially complicated concepts. VERDICT Superman’s image on these covers will promote use by browsers, and the topic specificity could be useful in particular science units.

Burgan, Michael. Energy. ISBN 9781 422235898; ISBN 9781422282908.

––––. Medicine and Health Care. ISBN 9781422235942; ISBN 9781422282953.

Centore, Michael. Entertainment Industry. ISBN 9781422235904; ISBN 9781422282915.

––––. Environment and Sustainability. ISBN 9781422235911; ISBN 9781422282922.

Csiszar, John. Information Technology. ISBN 9781422235935; ISBN 9781422282946.

Perritano, John. Agriculture. ISBN 9781422235881; ISBN 9781422282892.

––––. Forensics. ISBN 9781422235928; ISBN 9781422282939.

––––. Space Science. ISBN 9781422235959; ISBN 9781422282960.

––––. Transportation. ISBN 9781422235966; ISBN 9781422282977.

––––. War and the Military. ISBN 9781422235973; ISBN 9781422282984.

ea vol: 64p. (STEM in Current Events). chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $23.95. ebk. $29.95.

Gr 6 Up –A focus on recent STEM developments in 10 fields ranging from agriculture to war. “Text-Dependent Questions” and “Research Project” sections help learners to re-engage with the text and topic—many even promote group work. There are a number of exciting and intriguing examples of STEM in real-life throughout these volumes. A number of different uses of cell phones, 3-D printers, and drones appear, while concepts like pay-per-laugh technology, robot bees, and Elon Musk’s Hyperloop are unique. One point to note is that, despite the series title, examples are generally not pulled from newspaper headlines but are rather ongoing developments in each field. VERDICT A great fit for classroom or school libraries and a strong consideration for public libraries interested in the integration of STEM into everyday life.

Doeden, Matt. Fantasy Basketball Math: Using Stats to Score Big in Your League. ISBN 9781515721635.

––––. Fantasy Football Math: Using Stats to Score Big in Your League. ISBN 9781515721680.

Frederick, Shane. Fantasy Hockey Math: Using Stats to Score Big in Your League. ISBN 9781515721598.

Morey, Allan. Fantasy Baseball Math: Using Stats to Score Big in Your League. ISBN 9781515721673.

ea vol: 32p. (Fantasy Sports Math). chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.99.

Gr 5 Up –This series, which bears the Sports Illustrated for Kids brand, ably teaches tweens how to use math to create winning fantasy sports teams. While statistics vary from sport to sport, each title has a similar flow, as the series’ focus is really on building and strengthening decision-making skills. Topics covered include types of scoring, leagues, player selection, and trades. True to their brand, these books include many images of current stars as well as a few all-time greats. The math involved includes arithmetic and averaging, which many students won’t find difficult, but by engaging them this way, the volumes allow for readers to reinforce their skills in a high interest and fun way. Educators could easily use this series to set up student leagues of their own. VERDICT Sure to be a hit in classrooms and wherever sports fans proliferate.

Greenspan, Judy. STEAM Guides in TV Production. ISBN 9781681917085; ISBN 9781681918099; ISBN 9781681919058.

Kirk, Ruth. STEAM Guides in APP Development. ISBN 9781681917092; ISBN 9781681918105; ISBN 9781681919065.

––––. STEAM Guides in Transportation. ISBN 9781681917078; ISBN 9781681918082; ISBN 9781681919041.

Walker, Kevin. STEAM Guides in Inventions. ISBN 9781681917061; ISBN 9781681918075; ISBN 9781681919034.

ea vol: 48p. (STEM Every Day). further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Rourke. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $35.64. pap. $10.95. ebk. $35.64.

Gr 5-9 –An engaging series that investigates the ways in which STEAM is used in a variety of high-interest fields. Engineering is the focus of Inventions and Transportation, while TV Production and App Development concentrate on technology. Inventions and App Development walk readers through the construction processes involved, while the other titles skip around among subtopics. All titles feature “STEAM Fast Facts” sidebars full of trivia and anecdotes, like how Motorola’s Marty Cooper, the primary inventor of the cell phone, placed the first cell phone call ever to an engineer at a rival company. The coverage of emergency response drones is another great highlight. VERDICT Middle school students will find a great mix of solid information, thought-provoking questions, and fascinating examples in this STEAM series.

Hofer, Charles. How Do Irrigation Systems Work? ISBN 9781499420098; ISBN 9781499420104.

Honders, Christine. How Do Canals Work? ISBN 9781499419979; ISBN 9781499419986.

Nagelhout, Ryan. How Do Dams Work? ISBN 9781499420012; ISBN 9781499420029.

Roza, Greg. How Do Aqueducts Work? ISBN 9781499419931; ISBN 9781499419948.

––––. How Do Sewers Work? ISBN 9781499420050; ISBN 9781499420067.

Shea, Therese. How Do Reservoirs Work? ISBN 9781499420135; ISBN 9781499420142.

ea vol: 32p. (STEM Waterworks). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $26.25. ebk. $26.25.

Gr 4-7 –A well-done look at a less explored topic. Each volume begins with the history of the given waterworks, starting in ancient times in places as widespread as China, the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean, and the Americas. Developments up until the modern period are described, although most of the content generally focuses on those in the United States, sometimes to the detriment of the series. (For instance, the Three Gorges Dam project in China is not included in Dams.) The different types of scientists and engineers who work on each project are mentioned, as well as how STEM influences the siting, construction, and maintenance of various waterworks. Environmental concerns are also addressed. VERDICT Canals and sewers aren’t on most readers’ top 10 interest lists, but this series may just change that. A great example of STEM in the real world for school and public libraries.

Hulick, Kathryn. The Science of Dinosaurs. ISBN 9781680782462; ISBN 9781680779325.

Hutchison, Patricia. The Science of Superheroes. ISBN 9781680782516; ISBN 9781680779370.

Lanier, Wendy Hinote. The Science of Speed. ISBN 9781680782493; ISBN 9781680779356.

––––. The Science of Sports. ISBN 9781680782509; ISBN 9781680779363.

McCarthy, Cecilia Pinto. The Science of Movies. ISBN 9781680782479; ISBN 9781680779332.

––––. The Science of Music. ISBN 9781680782486; ISBN 9781680779349.

––––. The Science of Warriors. ISBN 9781680782530; ISBN 9781680779394.

Naber, Therese. The Science of Survival. ISBN 9781680782523; ISBN 9781680779387.

ea vol: 48p. (Super-Awesome Science). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $22.95. ebk. $37.95.

Gr 4-8 –A solid look at the science and technology side of popular topics paired with writing prompts, research ideas, critical thinking skills, and even some ethics questions. With covers adorned with the likes of Spiderman, readers will be drawn right in. Each volume takes a logical approach to the topic (Warriors takes a historical look at the evolution of war weapons and tactics, while Sports is divided by type of athletic endeavor, both integrate the key concepts and principles of physics). The linking of science to other academic skills throughout the series is a refreshing and rewarding feature. The concluding “Stop and Think” sections refer to and expand on topics introduced in the main text. VERDICT This set is bound to get kids excited. A fine addition to school and public libraries.

These top science series all build on excellent information by asking readers to think further about their various subjects. Capstone’s “Fantasy Sports Math,” Jump!’s “Math It!,” and Gareth Stevens’ “Solve It! Math in Space” each have students use math skills at an appropriate level. Gareth Stevens’ “From the Earth: How Resources Are Made” enlivens resource extraction while posing ethical and moral questions. Mason Crest’s “STEM in Current Events” and ABDO’s “Super-Awesome Science” look at the scientific and technical aspects of a broad range of intriguing topics. Capstone’s “You Choose: Space” gives tweens and teens the chance to think through decisions made in space exploration. All are highly recommended.

Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

For the latest nonfiction series reviews, check out the Fall 2016 Series Made Simple

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